Minnesota stuns No. 4 Arizona State

The Gophers went 3-1 on the weekend and stretched their record to 15-2.

Minnesota infielder Kaitlyn Richardson throws her bat after a base hit against Wisconsin on April 7, 2013, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Jaak Jensen, Daily File Photo

Minnesota infielder Kaitlyn Richardson throws her bat after a base hit against Wisconsin on April 7, 2013, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Jared Christensen

No. 20 Minnesota picked up a signature win Sunday afternoon when it took down No. 4 Arizona State 3-2.

That win was part of a weekend in which the team went 3-1 with wins over South Carolina, Detroit and Arizona State. The Gophers’ only loss came at the hands of Florida International.

Minnesota senior pitcher Sara Moulton picked up the wins over South Carolina and Arizona State, improving her record to 10-1 this season. Of her 10 wins, seven have been complete-game shutouts.

Gophers head coach Jessica Allister said she was pleased with Moulton’s performance.

“She did great,” the fourth-year coach said. “She really rose to the challenge and controlled the pace of the game. She’s very persistent.”

Minnesota junior infielder Kaitlyn Richardson said the win over the Sun Devils had a special meaning — beyond just beating a top-five team.

“We’ve been waiting three years to beat them,” she said. “We lost to them both my freshman and sophomore years, so picking up that win feels pretty good.”

Richardson contributed to those good feelings when her RBI double tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth.

The Gophers trailed 1-0 before Richardson’s hit scored junior infielder Tyler Walker.

Freshman Sara Groenewegen drove in Richardson and junior Erica Meyer to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead before the Sun Devils put out the fire.

But the damage had already been done.

“It was a huge win,” Allister said. “It was exciting to be able to put together a tremendous seven innings against a very good ASU team.”

The afternoon wasn’t without blemish, though. The win over the Sun Devils came after the Gophers’ loss to Florida International in the first game of Sunday’s double-header.

That loss was only the second of the year for Minnesota, which started this season with a program-best 14 wins through 15 games.

Allister said she’s satisfied with the start but said it’s important for her team to continue to improve.

“I’m very excited about the season we’ve put together so far,” she said, “but it’s important we continue to work hard to improve.

“If we do that, we can do some very special things.”

While Minnesota is looking to excel as a team, Richardson is poised to make a name for herself on the national stage.

After she was named to the Player of the Year watch list at the beginning of the season, she has continued to lead the way offensively for the Gophers.

Richardson went 5-for-9 with five RBIs over the weekend. Her performance bumped her batting average up to .444 and her slugging percentage up to .711.

Still, the All-Big Ten infielder emphasized that the only number that matters is the one in the team’s win column.

“I’m not too concerned with my own stats,” she said, adding that she couldn’t be happier with the outlook for the rest of the season.

“This week, we showed we can play with the top teams in the country,” she said. “And with this team, the sky’s the limit.”